How to Get Active with Your Local Shelter or Rescue: A Guide to Making a Difference

How to Get Active with Your Local Shelter or Rescue: A Guide to Making a Difference

In the United States today, animal shelters and rescues face an unprecedented crisis. Overcrowding, limited resources, and an ever-growing number of animals in need have pushed these sanctuaries to their limits. Now, more than ever, volunteers are the lifeblood that keeps these organizations afloat, providing care, love, and hope to countless animals. While the thought of stepping into volunteer work can feel daunting, intimidating, or even a bit scary, the journey to becoming a shelter volunteer is filled with support, community, and the profound satisfaction of making a difference. Let’s explore how you can get active with your local shelter or rescue and start volunteering.

1. Research Local Organizations

Your journey begins with research. Identify the shelters and rescues in your vicinity and dive into their online presence. Their websites and social media pages are treasure troves of information, outlining their mission, the volunteer opportunities they offer, and the requirements for becoming a volunteer. This step not only familiarizes you with the organization but also helps you gauge where your passions and skills might best be utilized.

2. Reach Out and Express Interest

Once you’ve pinpointed an organization that resonates with you, it’s time to make contact. Reach out to express your interest in volunteering; this can usually be done through a form on their website or a direct call or email. Many shelters and rescues have an application process for potential volunteers, followed by an orientation session. This process isn’t just paperwork; it’s a critical step in aligning your interests and skills with the needs of the organization.

3. Attend Training Sessions

Training sessions are a cornerstone of the volunteer experience. These sessions equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to ensure your safety and the well-being of the animals you’ll be helping. They offer a deep dive into the shelter’s operations, the challenges faced, and how you can contribute most effectively. Training is also a fantastic opportunity to ask questions and clarify any doubts you may have.

4. Explore Different Roles

The world of animal welfare offers a vast array of volunteer roles, from direct animal care to support in administrative tasks, fundraising efforts, and advocacy work. Each role is crucial to the shelter’s mission. Approach this exploration with an open mind; you might find your calling in an unexpected area. The diversity of roles also means you can switch things up if you’re looking for varied experiences or wish to contribute in multiple ways.

5. Stay Committed and Involved

The true impact of volunteering comes with time and dedication. Consistency allows you to form meaningful connections with the animals and the shelter staff, deepening your understanding of the organization's needs and how you can meet them. Regular volunteering isn’t just about the time spent; it’s about becoming a reliable part of the team that animals and staff can count on.

If You Can't Volunteer...

Volunteering in person isn’t the only way to support your local shelter or rescue. If your current circumstances make it difficult to volunteer, consider other forms of support. Donations, fostering, sharing information about adoptable pets on social media, and participating in or organizing fundraising events are all invaluable contributions to the welfare of shelter animals.


Starting your volunteer journey at a local shelter or rescue might seem intimidating at first, but it's a path filled with support, learning, and the joy of making a real difference in the lives of animals. Shelters and rescues are welcoming spaces eager for new volunteers to join their mission. As you take this step, remember: each volunteer brings hope, relief, and the possibility of a brighter future for countless animals. Together, we can work towards alleviating the crisis facing shelters across the country, one act of kindness at a time.

Austin Pets Alive -
Volunteer Application

Austin Animal Center - 
Volunteer Application

Luling Animal Welfare Society - 
Volunteer Application

Healing With Horses Ranch -
Volunteer Application


Back to blog